Staff Affections: The Woodlands on Bedwin & The Hearbreakers

July 21, 2011

Every other Thursday, Stephanie Osei asks employees and employers at our favorite shops around the world what their most cherished in-store item is for our column Staff Affections. This week, she caught up with Portland's The Woodlands about the OG Peach Johnny Jacket by Bedwin & The Heartbreakers. She spoke with head buyer Michael O Andersen:

What's great about this jacket for your customer? It is a simple and refined work jacket with really interesting points of detail. It's like your dad’s chore coat, but cut better in a perfect weight for year round wear. I feel like it's a jacket you can throw on four days a week for 10 years and still find it appealing and useful every single time. It's my favorite piece from Bebe, the Bedwin designer. He does it every season in a different textile or with a few small variations in detail. They really do excellent work over in Japan. I talk a lot about Oregon garment production, but it really pales in comparison when compared to some of the things they can do in Japan. You can’t find textiles like that in the US and for good reason.

When did the relationship between Woodlands and Bedwin & The Heartbreakers begin? This was our first season selling it. While they were visiting Portland for some other business, we all went out to lunch at Ping (a great restaurant around the corner from The Woodlands) and we really just hit it off. We walked all over the city and had a great time together. The people at DLX Tokyo are really gifted at creating well made products. I knew we had to have it at Woodlands. People don't realize how much work goes into each season. This is their livelihood. They really consider every single detail. Their tag line "Paramount Quality" is no joke.

You’ve styled some projects for The Woodlands. How do you create The Woodlands aesthetic? The looks I've styled for the shop are ones which I try to style to be inherently Portland, Oregon. There are not a lot of gentleman wearing suits and ties out here. And if they are, it's usually thrifted. It's a casual city with a lot of design minded people. We aren't about frills and thrills. We just want well-made and exceptionally executed design with functionality always at the forefront.

What was the initial idea of the store concept when The Woodlands was getting its start? We've always looked to show the rest of the world what Oregon and Cascadia as a region can offer. Our city and region are filled with crafts people, artists and fantastic designers of all sorts. We wanted to offer our Northwest centric view of the world.

Click through for more of the interview.

Would you call the space "curated?" Curating a space just seems a bit false to us. We create a space and fill it with things that we can relate to, things we understand, things we love, cherish and admire. We don't curate our homes like an art gallery, we fill it with objects that make us comfortable. The Woodlands is almost the same. It's a place for Portlanders, a place everyone in the city would feel comfortable stepping into. I hate going into those stores where it feels like you can’t touch anything because of the way it is over-merchandised. In the Woodlands, we want you to pick up everything. Get an idea of the product, feel its weight in your hand, understand the texture, the importance. We have a story about everything in here. Ask questions and we'll have answers.

The store is located in the Woodlands of Cascadia which is surrounded by mountains and ocean. How does that influence your selection? We only sell things that will function, last and provide a great value to the owner. Many of the supplies, boots and clothing we sell have roots in the Northwest. We sell sturdy, waterproof outerwear, heavy waterproof GORE-TEX boots and unwashed selvedge denim. There’s also thick cotton and woolen work shirts, and heavy waxed canvas bags and rucksacks. It's mostly always damp and raining in Portland so we have to think of that when we do our buys. Our summer season is really only three months long in Portland.

Can you tell me about a few pieces that make a lasting impression to your customers? People always get excited when they see the Pendleton tapestries we have on our walls. A few of them are one of a kind pieces that really set the atmosphere for our store. Pendleton has been a part of Oregon's history for over a hundred years. They are pioneers. You can't come to Oregon without thinking of Pendleton. We love to work with them whenever we have the opportunity. It's a great family with a great heritage in the northwest.

From The Collection:

Staff Affections
Staff Affections: The Woodlands on Bedwin & The Hearbreakers